Ryan Blaney, driver of the Penske Racing No. 22 Discount
Tire Dodge Challenger in the NASCAR Nationwide Series
(NNS), finished 10th in Saturday evening’s U.S. Cellular
250 at Iowa Speedway. The event marked the first of
three scheduled races for Blaney driving the Penske
Racing No. 22 car.
Blaney qualified in the 13th position for the event after
turning a lap of 23.573 seconds, or 133.627 miles per
hour, around the 7/8-mile speedway during Saturday
afternoon’s qualifying session. The newest member of
Penske Racing made his fifth overall NNS start of the
season and he earned his second series top-10 finish
with the result.
As the green flag flew to start the 250-lap race, Blaney
went to work on catching the cars in front of him. While
running lap times consistent with the race leaders,
Blaney was able to maintain his position through the first
few laps of the race. As he radioed to crew chief,
Jeremy Bullins, Blaney reported that the car was handling
tight entering the center of the corners. After the competition caution flag was displayed at lap 50, due to a strong storm earlier in the day, Bullins called for an air pressure change as well as a track bar adjustment in order to improve the handling of the No. 22 Dodge.
While maintaining his top-15 position, Blaney was able to stay competitive with the cars around him while getting comfortable in the Penske Racing Dodge Challenger. After Blaney reported that he was starting to experience a vibration coming from the brakes, Bullins and the Discount Tire crew began to work on a plan to correct the issue. Coming down pit road again on lap 89, the crew was able to add spring rubber to the right rear of the car as well as some tape to the right front hoping to resolve the issue.
Restarting ninth, Blaney found himself in a battle with the No. 7 car driven by Danica Patrick and No. 33 machine of Brendan Gaughan for a spot in the top 10. Once settling in the 13th position with a clear track in front of him and no pressure from behind, Blaney was able to find his rhythm and continue to focus on securing a top-10 result.
As the final caution flag of the evening flew on lap 79, the Discount Tire crew was able to make air pressure and track bar adjustments in an effort to resolve the tight-handling condition that Blaney was still experiencing. Fighting to maintain his top-10 spot, Blaney again found himself in a battle with the No. 7 and No. 33 cars for position. Blaney did a good job holding his spot until the checkered flag flew, as he scored a solid top-10 finish in his debut driving the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge.
“It was an up and down night for this Discount Tire Dodge tonight,” said Blaney. “We just really couldn’t get it going. After pit stops it took us a while to get going and get with everyone else. Once we did get going, our car was fast towards the end of the runs. Our last run was great. We were running down the guys and were really fast. A few tough breaks there at the end kept us from bringing home a top seven or better.”
With the result, the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger currently sits sixth in the owner point standings.
Penske Racing teammate, Sam Hornish Jr, brought his No. 12 WURTH Dodge Challenger home in the fourth position and he claimed the $100,000 grand prize in the Nationwide Insurance Dash for Cash.
The No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger will next race at Watkins Glen International in the Zippo 200 at the Glen on Saturday, August 11. Coverage will air live beginning at 2:00 p.m. EST on ABC. The race will also be broadcasted on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Radio Channel 90.